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Turkey-Syria earthquake: Death toll increases to 50,000, rescue efforts continue

Over 2 lakh workers continue to work in quake-hit areas

Tukrey-Syria earthquake (File) Rescuers work at the site of a collapsed building, in the aftermath of the deadly earthquake, in Antakya, Turkey | Reuters

The death toll from earthquakes that jolted Turkey and Syria surpassed 50,000 on Saturday. Rescue volunteers continue to work in areas affected by the earthquake.

The Disaster and Emergency Management Authority in Turkey on Friday said 44,218 people died as a result of the earthquakes while Syria confirmed the deaths of 5,914 persons in the disaster. Nearly 240,000 rescue workers, including volunteers, continue to work in the 11 quake-hit provinces in Turkey, Al Jazeera reported. According to reports, recovery efforts are continuing in affected areas and casualty numbers are rising as they progress. 

Turkish authorities said about 20 million people have been affected by the quakes in the country. United Nations reported that 8.8 million people are affected in Syria. 

Al Jazeera reported that about 5,30,000 people have been evacuated from the disaster area in Turkey alone. According to Turkish government, 1,73,000 buildings have so far been recorded as collapsed or severely damaged in the disaster. Over 1.9 million people are taking refuge in temporary shelters or hotels and public facilities. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised to rebuild homes within a year. "For several projects, tenders and contracts have been done. The process is moving very fast," Reuters reported quoting a Turkish official on condition of anonymity. 

The Turkish government is now planning to build 2,00,000 apartments and 70,000 village houses at a cost of at least $15 billion. US bank JPMorgan estimates rebuilding houses and infrastructure will cost $25 billion. Reuters reported that the UNDP estimates the destruction has left 1.5 million people homeless and 5,00,000 new homes were needed. The organization has requested $113.5 million from the $1 billion in funds appealed for by the United Nations last week and it would focus the funds to clear mountains of rubble.

According to UNDP estimates, the disaster had produced between 116 million and 210 million tons of rubble, compared with 13 million tons of rubble after the earthquake in northwest Turkey in 1999, Reuters reported.

The Turkish government has issued new regulations under which companies and charities can build homes and workplaces to donate to the urbanisation ministry for people in need, the publication reported.

According to AFAD, the first earthquake hit southeastern Turkey and northern Syria on February 6, measured a magnitude of 7.7 and a second, a little later, measured 7.6. The region has been rocked by more than 9,000 aftershocks since.


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